Not In Iceland, Yet … Thanks to Icelandair

Lynne Kiesling

Yesterday’s bad East Coast weather resulted in a ground hold for BWI flights, which resulted in our inbound Southwest flight being over two hours late. Even though I called Icelandair’s customer service and had them enter our flight number and expected arrival into our record, they gave our seats away when we didn’t show up 90 minutes before the flight’s departure time. When we did show up 30 minutes before departure time, they treated us like it was all our fault, didn’t offer to help us with accommodations, and did nothing other than put our names on the waitlist for today’s flight, which is already oversold.

Then today when I called Icelandair’s customer service I was (brusquely) informed that if we cancelled the reservation and just returned to Chicago (I am considering it, because if we don’t make it on this flight I miss half of the conference), they would be unable to refund our money, because it’s not their fault that we didn’t get on the flight. Technically true, but still appallingly bad customer service that leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me even less likely to ever visit Iceland. And if I did, I certainly wouldn’t fly on Icelandair; I’d fly to England instead and fly Iceland Express from Stansted.

How can this shocking excuse for customer service exist in a modern, information-rich society? The flight status database by airport exists, and airlines can access it in real time. An airline like Icelandair, with only four major entry ports in the US, would be able to offer superior customer service if they enabled their computer system to track the whereabouts of their passengers who are traveling from other airports to connect to them at one of those four ports. But the attitudes of the Icelandair employees, and the disturbingly poor computer technology we saw on display at their counter last night, indicate to me that they care very little about providing good customer service.


3 thoughts on “Not In Iceland, Yet … Thanks to Icelandair

  1. So what did you expect Icelandair to do?

    Pay for your hotelroom, although you obviously did not plan your own trip sufficiently?

    Hold the plane to Iceland, while waiting for you, thereby offsetting departure for as manu as 188 other passengers? (Not to mention possibly disrupting the next flight this plane would be scheduled for next morning out of Keflavik)

    Bump a paying passenger of the flight the day after, because you didn’t show up for the first one due to bad planning on your behalf?

    I’ve been to BWI numberous times, in the departure level there is a phone for a direct connection to nearby hotels. I guess that since you have a sufficient capacity to maintain this site, then you should be able to make a phonecall yourself.

    I fail to see your point in any way, it was basically your fault, for not planning buffer, and Southwests for not keeping their schedule.
    Icelandair can not be blamed in this instance, as far as I see they did everything that they could fairly and reasonably be expected to do for you.

    To imply otherwise is very egocentric and unfair.

  2. Uh, it was NOT Southwest’s fault. Read it again – the airport/FAA put a “ground halt” at BWI airport due to weather. My wife was stuck in DC overnight as a result of the same situation. Lynne did build in buffer (she was over two hours late, yet still 30 minutes ahead of departure).

    A competent airline would have KNOWN that she was en route and would be there 30 minutes ahead of departure and thus NOT given away the seats. Her whereabouts were NOT unknown. They knew she was en route and knew she would use the seats. This is, as she said, appalling bad customer service.

  3. Sounds to me like your flight was also oversold and Icelandair found an easy (and cheap) way to solve their problem. And most airlines have hotel coupons to help travelers out during inclement weather conditions (when the airline is not liable to put a traveler up for the night) in the spirit of good customer service. The failure to try to help in any way indicates they dont care about your business.

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